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Run out of holiday destinations? Here's a beautiful corner in the northern areas you probably still haven't been to: Shigar.

Shigar is a place in Gilgit-Baltistan where you will find a desert with proper sand dunes along with the rivers and shrubbery normally found in the region.

At an altitude of 2800 meters, the valley is ensconced between snow-clad peaks; and has everything to offer from plains and meadows, to forests and trees laden with cherry, apple, apricot, mulberry and streams of cold, fresh water at just about every corner.

Records show that this area was once called Little Tibet. But there isn't a single trace of Buddhist culture here today, neither in clothes nor in food. The approximately 70,000 people who live here are predominantly Shia.

The valley is Pakistan's most well kept secret; it seemed to me the safest place in the country. No Taliban, no drones, no mobile snatchers and extortionists.

Where else can a woman walk about town, any time of the day, and reach home without being ogled at, catcalled or touched?

The writing seen on the left side of the mountain ahead of the road says: 'Welcome to Shigar. The Valley of Mighty K2'. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The writing seen on the left side of the mountain ahead of the road says: 'Welcome to Shigar. The Valley of Mighty K2'. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Wooden carvings over doorways and beams with religious symbols explain the "pluralistic legacy of Shigar" says Niilofer Farrukh, an art historian. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Wooden carvings over doorways and beams with religious symbols explain the "pluralistic legacy of Shigar" says Niilofer Farrukh, an art historian. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Shigar is the gateway to several climbing peaks and trekking routes. Go in the summers to see flowers and fruits blooming and blossoming all round the hills. — Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Shigar is the gateway to several climbing peaks and trekking routes. Go in the summers to see flowers and fruits blooming and blossoming all round the hills. — Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Snow capped mountains: You begin to question why PIA cannot start an air safari. On a good day, the bird's eye view is resplendent with ice-capped peaks, including the K2. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
Snow capped mountains: You begin to question why PIA cannot start an air safari. On a good day, the bird's eye view is resplendent with ice-capped peaks, including the K2. —Photo by Kulsum Ebrahim
The valley got noticed first after the conservation of Shigar Fort, which has since been converted into a boutique hotel. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The valley got noticed first after the conservation of Shigar Fort, which has since been converted into a boutique hotel. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
June, July and August are the warmest months and therefore best for trekking/camping. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
June, July and August are the warmest months and therefore best for trekking/camping. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Carry a light sweater or a shawl for early mornings and evenings. A sturdy pair of walking shoes and socks are a must. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Carry a light sweater or a shawl for early mornings and evenings. A sturdy pair of walking shoes and socks are a must. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The people speak the Balti language, an archaic form of the Tibetan language. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The people speak the Balti language, an archaic form of the Tibetan language. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
This vernacular architecture dates back to over a 1,000 years and was renovated when Shigar Fort was being conserved. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
This vernacular architecture dates back to over a 1,000 years and was renovated when Shigar Fort was being conserved. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Timber lacing for strengthening walls through the cator and cribbage technique has been revived. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The population comprises a heterogeneous mixture of ethnic groups as a number of different peoples, including the Tibetan, Mongolian, Indo-Iranian and Central Asian came together and blended here. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The population comprises a heterogeneous mixture of ethnic groups as a number of different peoples, including the Tibetan, Mongolian, Indo-Iranian and Central Asian came together and blended here. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Polo is the national game of Baltistan. Tournaments take place from April to early May and from October to November. On any given Tuesday, you will find teams holding informal matches. — Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Polo is the national game of Baltistan. Tournaments take place from April to early May and from October to November. On any given Tuesday, you will find teams holding informal matches. — Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
It is a conservative part of Pakistan and it would be best for women to wear a dupatta or a scarf around the neck and cover their head when visiting a mosque. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
It is a conservative part of Pakistan and it would be best for women to wear a dupatta or a scarf around the neck and cover their head when visiting a mosque. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Nearly 96 per cent of the population earn a living solely from farming (wheat, barley, fodder crops and apricots). Only 4 per cent of the community is engaged in other forms of employment. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Nearly 96 per cent of the population earn a living solely from farming (wheat, barley, fodder crops and apricots). Only 4 per cent of the community is engaged in other forms of employment. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Four of the 14 eight thousand meter peaks are located here including the world's second highest peak, K2. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Four of the 14 eight thousand meter peaks are located here including the world's second highest peak, K2. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Shigar valley is very dusty. In the summer months (June, July and August) light cotton clothing is always best. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
Shigar valley is very dusty. In the summer months (June, July and August) light cotton clothing is always best. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The approximately 70,000 people who live here are predominantly Shia. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
The approximately 70,000 people who live here are predominantly Shia. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
July and August are the best months to see wildflowers blooming and to go trout fishing. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim
July and August are the best months to see wildflowers blooming and to go trout fishing. —Photo by Zofeen Ebrahim

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Comments (89) Closed



jayshankar Jul 02, 2014 03:38pm

what happened to all the Tibetans?? eradicated?

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Hilarious Jul 02, 2014 03:47pm

Well, you've just ensured that the place gets inundated with tourists!

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Khurram Jul 02, 2014 03:55pm

no more safe for women.

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N.Sid Jul 02, 2014 03:57pm

Absolutely stunning place. Shigar fort is looking beautiful with vernacular architecture, this place is a well kept secret but tourism is gathering pace in this area and local population will benefit with its unique culture and traditions.

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Rizwan Lotia Jul 02, 2014 04:00pm

Excellent photographs

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NHM Jul 02, 2014 04:03pm

If it was Pakistan's most well-kept secret, you should have kept it that way. The only area in Pakistan with a peaceful way of life is now going to be swarmed with completely messed up preachers selling their own brand of religion while eyeing their women and robbing them off whatever little wealth they have accumulated over the years.

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Goga Nalaik Jul 02, 2014 04:04pm

@jayshankar This area is called Tibete Khurd (Little Tibet) with the same populations living there for centuries ... What is your question!

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Unnas Ahmad Jul 02, 2014 05:07pm

Ok.. Wow. I definitely want to visit this place one day

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Tariq, Lahore Jul 02, 2014 05:09pm

Wow! Great landscape and scenery!

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Martin Jul 02, 2014 05:49pm

Super beautiful

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Osama Ashfaq Jul 02, 2014 05:54pm

Have been to the place twice. Breathtaking.

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Shamsher Singh Dhillion Jul 02, 2014 05:55pm

oh my god!! so beautiful!!!!!!!!

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Mumtaz Jul 02, 2014 06:35pm

It really looks a different world in Pakistan the best thing about it is peace and security which has become a dream for us nowadays

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Tahereh Jul 02, 2014 06:48pm

Though much is lost to the strands of time, vernacular architecture places you immediately in Tibet.Traces of Tibetan culture survive primarily in sacred architecture - mosques and khanqas are both Tibetan and Kashmiri in style - minarets are more like tops of stupas with a crescent as their crowning glory. Balti food is a combination of Tibetan and Central Asian cuisine both of which share its borders. Shigar and Skardu boast some Buddha carvings and remnants of an old monastery in the mountains around the Shigar fort.

But as any Balti will be quick to comment, racially they are a Central Asian Indo European race and not Tibetan!

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An Indian Jul 02, 2014 06:54pm

Breathtakingly fantastic !

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mahmood Jul 02, 2014 07:00pm

Deliberate efforts are needed to make it a tourist attraction. There are enough locals well educated, serving and retired govt servants who can voluntarily join hands to make it a organized affair. Do not depend upon Tourism Department as they are incapable of making Pakistan a tourist attraction in spite of latter's tremendous potential.

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mahmood Jul 02, 2014 07:08pm

Wonderful. Locals must make efforts to preserve its natural beauty to make it a tourist attraction. Do not look for a Tourism department around. They are there, but good for nothing.

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Far sight Jul 02, 2014 07:14pm

Wow... mesmerizing beauty!! truly amazing.

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Arshad Jul 02, 2014 07:26pm

@jayshankar: It was called Little Tibet because of a similarity to Tibet landscape, not because there were any Tibetans there. Tibet is hundreds of miles away from the place.

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ahmed Jul 02, 2014 07:27pm

Alas, secret no more!

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ameerhamza Jul 02, 2014 07:32pm

Indeed this is blessing that we tend to ignore ..

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Shahryar Shirazi Jul 02, 2014 07:37pm

The first picture reminds me of a drive I did from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. This is so beautiful.

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Mohammad Iqbal Jul 02, 2014 07:50pm

who says pakistan is ugly

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K G Surendran Jul 02, 2014 07:51pm

WOW!!! Nice old world charm about it besides the breathtaking scenery. Good pics.

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Aziz Jul 02, 2014 08:07pm

Most of the people here are predominately Shia Ismailis. Many thanks to Aga Khan Cultural Service Pakistan for investing $1.5 million for Shigar Fort restoration. Beautiful place, beautiful people.

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anony Jul 02, 2014 08:31pm

The place simply looks BREATH-TAKING.

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F Khan Jul 02, 2014 09:09pm

Please visit these places, your visits shall be of great help for poor people of these parts of country.

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Kabir Singh Jul 02, 2014 09:38pm

WOW!! Exquisite place! Definitely want to be there for trekking. Beautiful people and heavenly scenery!!

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suyogee Jul 02, 2014 09:59pm

please conserve the heaven like place.... what a beautiful place, wish i could visit in my lifetime.

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Imran Jul 02, 2014 10:20pm

Beautiful place.

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BK Jul 02, 2014 10:35pm

Beautiful pictures, what an amazing treasure. Thanks to the author for sharing the info about Shigar.

A quick request (to authors in general), please don't specify the religion/sect of the people. With the current environment such info can only breed differences. People in Pakistan should be referred to as Pakistani not Shia, Sunni, Christians, etc.

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A Pakistani Jul 03, 2014 12:29am

Is this the remnant of the Buddhist culture

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Riza Afghan Jul 03, 2014 02:15am

Go there and get killed by Taliban and Terrorists. Nice Try. LOL

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Syed Jul 03, 2014 03:11am

Now they would set up a military cantonment, some road or rail for transportation which would lead the way to colonization, Islamic extremism, land grabbing, construction and tourist resorts under the name of Uqaab and finally torture of the original inhabitants. This is how it has been with other regions.

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Anjum Wazir Jul 03, 2014 03:32am

@Aziz not shia Ismaili brother people are Shia isna ashriya... and the aga khan's investment can't motivate or attract people towards his sect... Ismailis r totally different from Shia isna ashriya..

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Farid Midhet Jul 03, 2014 04:30am

I've seen 26 countries, including the most famous tourist attractions of Tanzania and Egypt, Switzerland and Italy in Europe, the amazing Big Island of Hawaii and half of USA and Canada, and Nepal and India. Without fear of contradiction, I can say Pakistan has the most diversely beautiful tourist attractions in the world

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Kashif Shahzad Jul 03, 2014 04:46am

Was it necessary to state that "The approximately 70,000 people who live here are predominantly Shia." Are you trying to divert LeJ forces to their peaceful area?

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Usman Jul 03, 2014 05:18am

All I can say at your question for PIA starting an air safari is: LOL! They're too busy trying to arrange the pilot's meal, or a night's stay at the PIA hotel in NY.

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Shafiq Jul 03, 2014 06:37am

Let me make it very clear. Its my land and a disputed region. It's not Pakistan's.

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with Indian flag on border Jul 03, 2014 07:49am

LET THEM LIVE HAPPLY

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Trekker Jul 03, 2014 09:15am

Oh God! It is almost a crime not to visit such places. I would love to visit your beautiful country.

Any paki bro is welcome to join our group which is going to Tibbet / Mount Everest Base Camp Trail next year.

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Oberver Jul 03, 2014 10:21am

@BK Couldn't agree more

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Mustafa Jul 03, 2014 10:26am

I have been to Shigar and adjoining ares. Its an immaculate place with complete peace and tranquility. People get up with the first of sun and hit the bed at dusk. Shigar fort is maintained by Sarena hotel and rooms are excellent with breath taking views. Road to fort is surrounded by white sand and it is awesome. Place is worth seeing.....

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Wasif Jul 03, 2014 10:30am

@NHM - valid point - there must be a preacher repellent to wade away ignorant spirits

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Saad Zafar Jul 03, 2014 11:23am

Please keep it secret. I don't want their peaceful lifestyle hindered any way.

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Farhan Jul 03, 2014 11:33am

It's a secret for a reason. Stop advertising the tiny slice of heaven we have. Please see pictures of the huge pile of Garbage that David Lama and his expedition left at the Base camp of Broadpeak.

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Animesh Kumar SIngh Jul 03, 2014 12:16pm

OMG. Stunning. I am really impressed. Pakistan has such wonderful places. What have they done with Pakistan. They have tarnished the Image of a beautiful country. I hope the normal Pakistani people must as pure, warm and beautiful as these pictures are. We must encourage them to come out and make Pakistan a better place. Efforts must be put to allow foreign travelers to go and see such places by making Pakistan a terror free state.

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Munawar Jul 03, 2014 12:24pm

"Where else can a woman walk about town, any time of the day, and reach home without being ogled at, catcalled or touched?"

I have issue with this line. Perhaps refrain from making sweeping judgements about 160 million people, in the future.

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syed Jul 03, 2014 12:46pm

I thought you were gonna say bin ladin... not a secret anymore though

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gary Jul 03, 2014 12:51pm

@Mohammad Iqbal Nobody, there is nothing wrong with the country, or any country. It is the people who makes all the difference.

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Honda Jul 03, 2014 01:11pm

Amazing place...beautiful people. Hope to be there one day.

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Wise Jul 03, 2014 02:55pm

@Mohammad Iqbal ...Actually entire world ...lol

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Dr. Cajetan Coelho Jul 03, 2014 03:08pm

Nice pictures. Lovely place. Has some resemblance to a few sites in Kaza in the North Indian State of Himachal Pradesh.

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Indian Jul 03, 2014 03:14pm

not 800, but 8000 metres height for peaks

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Shah Jul 03, 2014 04:43pm

@Munawar Correction: Pakistan passed Brazil 2-3 years ago and is today a country of 205 million people. 4th largest nation in the world. This according to PEW.

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Tony Jul 03, 2014 07:25pm

This place is in Jammu & Kashmir.

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Sain Jul 03, 2014 07:45pm

Well, it's a secret no longer, and now we can expect tourists, t-shirts, Coke and all the rest of the rest of the crap flooding the area. Thanks!

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Fabionatoo Jul 03, 2014 08:02pm

@Shah : According to Wikipedia, Pakistan is 6th behind China, India, USA, Indonesia & Brazil in terms of population.

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Shah Jul 03, 2014 09:17pm

@Shah Correcting my self: 5th largest, behind Indonesia but before Brazil.

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Manikkam Jul 03, 2014 10:22pm

Goodness Gracious me, The heights to which a woman must soar -just ONLY NOT to be manhandled!

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Stealth Jul 03, 2014 10:41pm

Stunningly beautiful...beautifully stunning...It a paradox that with such amazingly serene surroundings in the backyard...very few Pakistanis visit this areas. Foreign tourists are more adventurous and vagabonds. Local Pakistani people need to come out of their sedentary/lazy and laid back lifestyle and start visiting these splendid places one in a lifetime.

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Shahid Jul 03, 2014 11:16pm

@Shafiq stop being stupid by laying claims as such

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Stealth Jul 03, 2014 11:21pm

@Tony No, this is in Pakistan held Kashmir, namely Gilgit-Baltistan. Jammu and Kashmir is the IOK(Indian occupied Kashmir).

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N.Sid Jul 03, 2014 11:28pm

The title should be 'One of Pakistan's mot well kept secret'. There are dozens of places in northern areas, in Skardu, Chitral, and and in further up north Gilgit and Baltistan where people have not ventured out before. Dawn should make it a permanent pictorial to highlight the undiscovered and hidden areas of Pakistan, once in a week. This will do wonders to the local and international tourism in Pakistan.

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Shahid Jul 03, 2014 11:38pm

shun any nonsence of Shigar being outside Pakistan

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omair Jul 04, 2014 02:45am

@Shafiq It is pakistan first and than your region

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jayshankar Jul 04, 2014 06:51am

@Goga Nalaik . Please read the write up carefully.....

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fahadgillani Jul 04, 2014 07:01am

This place defines safety. The difference between shiger and rest of the places is education. Well educated folks of this valley realise the importance of tourism and hence own the tourists. This ensures every local ensures you have a wonderful time here. A must see place. Equally safe for men, women and foreigners.

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anita turab Jul 04, 2014 10:55am

What is the point of mentioning their Sect? How irresponsible is this article and the editors have not even removed this statement! If Shigar is some great beautiful undiscovered place for tourism then WHAT IS THE POINT OF STATING THAT PEOPLE ARE PREDOMINANTLY SHIA???? Bigtory all around. Can editors please be more sensible if writers clearly aren't.

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AYaz Jul 04, 2014 02:25pm

why did u feel the need to mention the sect?? just why?? ajeeb, this stupid sectarianism goes so deep in our culture that even the "moderate" cant save their uchkun

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omer Jul 04, 2014 05:40pm

@Tahereh Well the people of Shigar may well be from indo-European origin but the people of Skardu proper look quite like Tibetans.

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Just Someone Jul 04, 2014 09:14pm

Want to go and visit.

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riz1 Jul 04, 2014 09:28pm

Shhhh.. the Talibs will read and come here too!

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mohammed Jul 05, 2014 09:23am

I thought Osama was Pakistan's best kept secret?

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Anjum Hameed Jul 05, 2014 11:38am

Beautuful place...I shudder as to what will happen when the sickos enter...which they will, as NO ONE in Pakistan is ever punished, so why not carry on the mayhem?..

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Insane Jul 05, 2014 05:34pm

@Hilarious. It is better to get this place inandated by tourists instead of terrorists!

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tanchattah Jul 05, 2014 06:34pm

Well best kept secrets are usually gossiped by women looks like the taliban running from NW are going to end up there thanks for sharing with us a well kept secret

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Realist Jul 05, 2014 07:33pm

Looks okayish.

Shame it's people are dominated by the death cult

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Ashok R.Prabhu Jul 05, 2014 09:09pm

Really a beautiful place,worth visit.

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NASAH (USA) Jul 05, 2014 10:52pm

Perhaps your article has made the place unsafe. But good to know such pristine places still exist in Pakistan.

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Iqbal a.Khan Jul 06, 2014 12:09am

Interesting.May

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Farooq Jawed Jul 06, 2014 04:27pm

"The valley is Pakistan's most well kept secret; it seemed to me the safest place in the country. No Taliban, no drones, no mobile snatchers and extortionists.

Where else can a woman walk about town, any time of the day, and reach home without being ogled at, catcalled or touched?"

One can only hope that all of Islamic Republic of Pakistan will become safe for women and not only Shigar. Ameen!

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Sundeep Jul 07, 2014 12:12am

I wish my Pakistani brothers that your country returns to peace and normalcy soon....

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Mohammed Abbasi Jul 07, 2014 02:39am

Beautiful!

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Valiya Jul 07, 2014 11:56am

Very innocent people, but I am worried about them because they might become the next victim of sectarianism too.

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Hassan Hakeem Jul 07, 2014 01:20pm

Visited Shigar in 2009. Had lunch at Shigar fort. Amazing place.

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Sazo Jul 07, 2014 02:39pm

@Aziz: You are required to study about these areas, population of shia Ismailis in Baltistan in negligible, In Hunza, Ghizer and Chitral they are in majority.

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Esmeil Jul 07, 2014 03:39pm

@NHM You are absolutely right. This place is going to be ruined now.

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Azhar Jul 07, 2014 06:41pm

@Goga Nalaik, Jayshankar has no question. It was just an expression of sarcasm to show his hatred against Pakistan and Muslims.

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